Yesterday, May 21, 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced that it approved amendments to its rules and forms “to improve for investors the financial information about acquired or disposed businesses, facilitate more timely access to capital, and reduce the complexity and costs to prepare the disclosure.” The 267-page final rule release is available by clicking here.
The amendments update SEC rules which have not been comprehensively addressed since their adoption, some over 30 years ago. Jay Clayton, the SEC’s Chairman, said that amendments are “designed to enhance the quality of information that investors receive while eliminating unnecessary costs and burdens [and] will benefit investors, registrants and the market more generally.”
Among other things, the amendments:
- update the significance tests (i.e., to determine when financial statements regarding an acquisition or disposition must be included) in Rule 1-02(w) and elsewhere by revising the investment test to compare the registrant’s investments in and advances to the acquired or disposed business to the registrant’s aggregate worldwide market value if available; revising the income test by adding a revenue component; expanding the use of pro forma financial information in measuring significance; and conforming, to the extent applicable, the significance threshold and tests for disposed businesses to those used for acquired businesses;
- modify and enhance the required disclosure for the aggregate effect of acquisitions for which financial statements are not required or are not yet required by eliminating historical financial statements for insignificant businesses and expanding the pro forma financial information to depict the aggregate effect in all material respects;
- require the financial statements of the acquired business to cover no more than the two most recent fiscal years;
- permit disclosure of financial statements that omit certain expenses for certain acquisitions of a component of an entity;
- permit the use of, or reconciliation to, International Financial Reporting Standards as issued by the International Accounting Standards Board in certain circumstances;
- no longer require separate acquired business financial statements once the business has been included in the registrant’s post-acquisition financial statements for nine months or a complete fiscal year, depending on significance; and
- make corresponding changes to the smaller reporting company requirements in Article 8 of Regulation S-X, which will also apply to issuers relying on Regulation A.
The amendments will be effective on Jan. 1, 2021, but voluntary compliance will be permitted in advance of the effective date.
Given the shutdown of the SEC as part of the wider government shutdown, we are seeing many registration statements being filed with no delaying amendment language and with the language required by Rule 473 to allow automatic effectiveness in 20 days in accordance with Section 8(a) of the Securities Act. In the last two weeks, at least 30 such registration statements have been filed. In all of 2018, there were only three such registration statements, and in all of 2017, there were only two. Obviously, the deals must go on, and corporate issuers and their counsel have seen the Division of Corporation Finance’s FAQs regarding Actions During Government Shutdown and have heeded the answers set forth therein. (For now, the FAQs are posted on the Division of Corporation Finance’s homepage.)
The first of these “automatically effective” registration statements filed in 2019 was on Form S-4 in connection with the pending merger of BSB Bancorp and People’s United Financial, Inc. Since then, issuers have filed these registration statements on Forms S-1, S-3 and S-4 in connection with a variety of transactions. If the government shutdown continues, we should expect to see many more of these filings.
Our partner Richard Renck in Wilmington recently posted an entry on our Delaware Business Law Blog regarding the Comverge case decided last month by the Delaware Court of Chancery. Among other things, the Court’s opinion provides practitioners and clients with insight regarding break-up fees as well as a road map of how the Court of Chancery reviews challenges to third-party sale transactions, approved by a disinterested board, under the enhanced scrutiny of Revlon. Please see Richard’s post here.
The Federal Trade Commission announced yesterday that it has made its annual adjustments to the thresholds for determining whether a transaction is reportable under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 and the amount of the related filing fee. The new thresholds were published today in the Federal Register. Under HSR, certain transactions may not be completed until a waiting period (generally 30 days unless extended by a request for additional information or terminated early upon request) has expired after the required notifications are filed.
Continue reading FTC Revises Hart-Scott-Rodino Thresholds
Chancellor Strine rebuked Goldman Sachs and El Paso CEO Doug Foshee on the record and agreed with disgruntled shareholders that the sale process was likely tainted by breaches of fiduciary duty, but in the end, the Chancellor declined to enjoin a stockholder vote on the proposed $31 billion acquisition of El Paso by Kinder Morgan.
The opinion, issued February 29, 2012 in the case of El Paso Corporation Shareholder Litigation in the Chancery Court of Delaware, has been widely cited and discussed for its criticism of Goldman Sachs and Foshee for maintaining conflicts of interest through the negotiation process with Kinder Morgan. In that regard, the opinion is instructive to conscientious boards, management and professionals.
Continue reading Chancellor Strine’s El Paso Opinion Critical of CEO and Goldman Sachs, Provides Guidance on M&A Conflicts of Interest
The Federal Trade Commission has made its annual adjustments to the thresholds for determining whether a transaction is reportable under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act. Under HSR, transactions that satisfy specified thresholds may not be closed until the earlier of the date on which a waiting period of 30 days (subject to extension if additional information is requested) has expired after the filing of the required notification or early termination of the waiting period is granted. The new thresholds, which apply to any transaction that closes on or after February 27, 2012, are as follows: Continue reading FTC Revises HSR Filing Thresholds